Hiraeth

Hiraeth

Sometimes I find myself so incredibly alone. Alone and tired. I miss…something. I want to go back but, like a fading dream, it slips away from me before I can remember. Sometimes I think I know what it is and where I last left it, but I’m afraid that if I go back it won’t be the way I remembered it. It’ll be different. And worst of all…maybe it’ll be the same, and I’ll be the one who is different. Continue reading “Hiraeth”

“Introduction” (Day 1)

“Introduction” (Day 1)

31-day-challenge

“Introduction” is such a bad title. It doesn’t say what you’re introducing, just that you’re going to introduce it. Boring.

If you hadn’t noticed by the photo, THIS is the beginning of my 31 Day Blog Challenge. It began because I realized that writing is hard, and I want to write a lot of things. The hard part comes in when I sit staring at my computer for over an hour, struggling to write something that doesn’t sound like fluff.

I decided that I needed a subject. Something that made me want to rant about things that matter rather than meaningless filler posts. I saw a Pinterest post titled “31 Day Blog Challenge” that contained a list of 31 things to blog about every day. It was created for people who blog, but don’t know what to blog about. Now, let me say this up-front. I don’t like this list. I think the things are stupid and trivial and remind me way too much of marshmallow fluff than steak and potatoes.

BUT.

I know that I need to be writing every day, and so I’m hoping that while I work my way through the list, I can actually turn it around into something meaningful. Thus, adding stuff to the fluff. Notice what I did there? Ties into my header image all fancy-like.

I’m really going to need help getting through this. I know already that day 5 is going to make me gag, as well as day 10, 14, 15, 25, and 31. I may end up switching some of these out and adding in my own, mostly because I can’t bring myself to talk about my “First Celebrity Crush” for a whole blog post.

The bit I need to focus on is  this: If a writer never writes, is she still a writer? I miss writing. I miss writing about things I care about. I miss feeling like the words I string together will have an impact on people. When I read back on things I’ve written, there is a mix of emotion. Loathing for the pieces I skimped on and compromised just to get the work done, and pride for the pieces I poured my heart into.

I wrote a piece once, called “What’s In A Name”. It was a project for college called The Gospel Simply. You had to present the gospel without using biblical or “Christian” terms. I loved every second of that project. I created my own version of a Narnia-esque world, smothering in darkness, seeking a deliverance into light. I cried as I wrote the last pages, seeing myself in the main character as she struggled to continue on her journey without her dearest companion. I’ve wanted so much to write a sequel to the short story, but haven’t. I like that the story ends with Darcy unsure of what to do next with the wide wide world staring back at her. The piece spoke to my own wandering and searching, with revelations and dashed hopes. That’s why it meant so much. In a way, I yearned for the type of relationship Darcy had with Kiran, the same way I yearn for a relationship with Christ.

Another piece was a historical fiction short that I composed about Margaret Schilling, a woman who died in an insane asylum in Ohio during the 1970’s. There was a short little paragraph about her ghost and the stain her body had left on the floor where she was discovered. Most of the articles I had found on her were story after story of her ghost haunting people. Something made me mad about that. I hunted (and I do mean HUNTED) for clues about her actual life rather than her death. I eventually found some hospital records, and even went so far as to try contacting the man who discovered her body. I poured everything I had into that piece. I remember pacing in my friend’s room, ranting about how mad I was that no one ever seemed to care about her as a person. I couldn’t even find where she was buried. I did as much research as I could, and then filled in the blanks from my own imagination. Let me tell you, researching how it feels to slowly freeze to death isn’t fun. Not even a little. The passion I had for telling the truth, her truth (or at least as much as I could find of it) was so important. If no one else could tell about her, then I would.

THESE are the kinds of stories I want to tell. THESE are the kind of truths I want to write about. Not merely jabber on about My Guilty Pleasure. (Though I think we all know, the answer to that is simple. Pudding.)

img_3180

Why I Write

Why I Write

I started off as a reader. Mom used to read Nancy Drew books to me before bed, and somehow I collected over 30 of the hard yellow backed mystery books. I guess you would say that was step one. I don’t remember when I first started writing. I think it just gradually shifted when I realized I could make up my own stories instead of just reading somebody else’s. Since then, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.

High school wasn’t really the best for me. Not really having friends was the norm. Obviously part of that was growing up in a country where having an American my age was rare. Comparing it to the friends I have now, I was a lonely kid. It was Jenna, Michael, and myself. It’s sad to think that the people who used to be your whole world can so easily be snatched away, whether in distance or in spirit. To cope with the lack of companionship, I turned to my writing a lot. My stories and the characters in them were sometimes more real to me than the world I actually lived in.

Yet there was one place that has ever remained uninhibited by the outside world. During the Bosnian war, there had been a building on the outskirts of Kobilja Glava that was a partially completed medical facility. After the war broke out in 1992, the building was used as a barricade for the men of the neighborhood. When the war was over, the building remained where it was, and no efforts were ever made to rebuild. And thus it sat, quite embedded in the earth; half sunk, half slunk on the backside of a hill, in a field, in the middle of nowhere, Kobilja Glava. To me, it was the most beautiful place in the world.

11204973_10208225671061087_7628201240611216124_n12366219_10208225670581075_1632848700537977649_n

I always felt like I could be myself here. No inhibitors or spelling mistakes or hand cramps. My creativity could just flow. I would talk to myself as I explored, planning out wars and battles and fights ending in loss of life or loss of love. I never questioned my own sanity or why I spoke to walls. The inner dialogues could roam free.

I’d bring my backpack, stuffed full of notebooks and pencils and lay it all out on a ratty old blanket somewhere on the second floor. If I got stumped, I’d pace, walking down halls and exploring rooms until my writer’s block had been smashed to pieces and I was running back through rooms and up broken stairs to get back to my notes. Writing always made sense. Sometimes it was the only thing that did.

I’ve found that writing when you’re depressed is sometimes the best medicine. Have you ever noticed that it’s the ones that are hurting that can create the most beautiful art? For some reason, beautiful things come from pain. It makes me think of Van Gogh’s paintings, King David’s poetry, and Mozart’s music. When you’re hurting, there’s a raw emotion that seeps it’s way through your fingers, and bleeds on everything you touch. Your words, your emotions, your work – they’re all living shards of you.

Writing gives me peace. It gives me power. It’s violent and urgent and grotesque and REAL. I am both creator and destroyer. I am both life and death. If a character is too weak, kill them off. Make the reader suffer like I have suffered; like the character has suffered. I can offer hope on a silver tray, and then snatch it away just as quickly. That power that comes with writing is probably one of the reasons I do it. When I have no control over the pain I feel, or the emotions that have gone numb in my chest, I can write. I have control over that. Much like someone who slashes lines into their skin just to feel something, I can control everything, when I am the one writing the script. If I didn’t have my writing, I honestly don’t know if I would even be here. That’s the God-sworn truth.

My dream job has always been to be an author. Before Chesh, the plan was to spend my life alone in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by my dogs, and to write. Now the dream is a little different. It has morphed into spending my life with him in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dogs and kids, and to write. It’s always been my passion and always be my passion. That doesn’t mean all my writing is dark or depressing. That doesn’t mean all my writing is happy-go-lucky or happy endings. I want to write truth. I’ve always wanted to write truth. A lot of times it’s me working through what I think or feel and trying to relate that to the world around me in a way that makes sense.

Writing is a safe place. Writing is a sanctuary. If I can share that with other people, then maybe I’ll help some others along the way. Don’t fear your inner demons, but let them escape through your pen. That is my redemption. And that is why I write.

img_3180

Dinner with Friends

Dinner with Friends

One of my love languages is food. I absolutely love to cook for people. I believe that if you can’t capture someone with food, they can never be caught. These elusive types you must reserve yourself to simply admire from a distance. I figure, if I can trick  you with my food to like me, that’s magic. I’ll gain some new friends, and you’ll eat some good food.

After all, this is how I tricked Chesh into proposing to me in the first place.

Last week I invited two of the coolest people over for dinner, and they said yes. I knew them from college theater, and had interacted (sort of) with each other over the past four years in some capacity. In the tiny theater program at CIU, they had always been the “cool kids”. They were talented on stage, got amazing roles, sang obscure Broadway shows I’d never heard of, and always seemed to be having the most fun whether they were backstage, on stage, directing, or slapping on makeup in the green room. It had been my lifelong dream to be friends with them, and here I was, an adult, inviting two other popular adults over for dinner.

I decided to try making something I had never tried before. A fellow blogger had posted something about re-creating a french meal and had made duchess potatoes to complete her meal. As I read through her post, I found myself drooling. If you don’t know, duchess potatoes are mashed potatoes that are piped onto parchment paper and backed in the oven. It gives them a crisp golden exterior and soft melt-in-your-mouth center. I had never tried making them before, but I like a challenge. In the end the hardest part was trying to pipe the things… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

dinner-with-friends-menu-1

Because I don’t get home from work until 5:30, I prepped. I was so proud of myself. I cooked a bunch of stuff the night before. I lacked a peeler (which I realize in retrospect is something I should probably own in my kitchen), so I used a knife. I grew up in Sarajevo, and no real woman uses a peeler there. The inner Bosnian woman in me was very proud that I not only peeled all my potatoes without cutting myself, but also did it pretty quickly.

img_3212

I tried to make sure all the pieces were approximately the same size, and stuck them all in a pot of boiling water with some Himalayan pink salt. I freaking LOVE Himalayan pink salt! I like the flavor so much better than table salt and it’s my go to every time I’m cooking. The only bad bit about using pink salt with potatoes, is that potatoes suck up salt, and so you’ll need a decent amount. How much is a decent amount, you ask? I have no clue.

Once the potatoes were nice and soft, I added butter, sour cream, garlic, more salt and pepper to taste, parmesan , feta, and milk, before mashing it all together into one creamy (and yummy) mashed potato mess.

SIDENOTE: I realized later that I should have added egg. I think it might help with the firmness when you bake it, because mine were not as crispy as I would have liked.

img_3211

I then cut up all my broccoli and put it aside. Because broccoli cooks relatively quickly in comparison with the rest of my menu, I knew I could wait until the next night to cook it. Also took six chicken breasts and sliced them so they would open like a hot dog bun, leaving one side still attached like a hinge. I put all the chicken in a giant zip lock back and stuck in my fridge. The rest I would do tomorrow. Now it was time for the sauce.  This is my favorite part of cooking chicken, and since I had a jar of sun-dried tomatoes on hand, I decided on a sun-dried tomato & spinach feta cream sauce. The mix in the picture looks a lot runnier, but it was actually a lot thicker with plenty of spinach and cheese.

img_3209

When I got home from work on Wednesday night, I melted half a stick of butter in the microwave and then poured it into the ziplock with the chicken. Then I added a bunch of breadcrumbs in and shook up the bag. This got all the chicken covered in butter first, and then coated with Italian breadcrumbs (I had half a container of Panko breadcrumbs in my pantry and used that).

COOKING TIP: If you ever have a recipe that calls for breadcrumbs, but none can be found, use Ritz crackers to do the job. Especially the vegetable or herb ones. Just crumble them up, and you’re good as gold.

img_3216

I put down foil in my pans and then laid the butter smothered-breadcrumb covered chicken in the pans. As you can see in the picture, I have more than six chicken breasts. This is because some of the pieces were huge and I cut them in halves or thirds. I spooned my sauce into each breast and then place a half a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each one. Once it was popped in the open, I piped my potatoes, boiled my broccoli and Voila!

Cheshire showed up at 6 and our guests popped by around 7. With an hour and a half, I should have had plenty of time to cook everything. We ate around 7:30, and everything was scrumptious! I do regret that I didn’t take a picture of the finished product.

After dinner I started on the cobbler, and since we had all resolved to just enjoy the time together, the dinner party lasted until about 10:30. This gave me plenty of time to whip up my favorite cobbler recipe and pop it in the oven. If you’re interested, I found it through Pinterest on The Charm of Home blog, and is a recipe I’ve used many many times. Paired together with some vanilla ice cream and a bottle of Stella Rosa Black, the four of us polished off almost the entire pan. Needless to say, we were all stuffed and happy by the time the night ended.

If having people over means I get to cook more, I’m happy. Good food, good people, good time.

img_3180